?

Log in

 
 
15 February 2006 @ 12:31 pm
Men in Feminism?  
I’ve been asked for my pov on men in feminism. I can only respond with a personal perspective. Interaction and commentary from the community is invited and encouraged.

When we ask what feminism is grounded in, the first answer is, feminism is grounded in feminism. I know that sounds circular but let’s look at the alternative which is: feminism would be grounded in patriarchy because anything that isn’t feminism, is patriarchy. This is also why radical feminists question the ideologies of liberal feminism. Liberalism has central conceptual cardinals which are patriarchal. Having visited here, I turn and ask again, what is feminism grounded in? The answer is women’s experience.

I believe some of the most interesting differences (post-social in origin) between men and women are what men DO NOT SEE that women do see. Within feminism, this is understood as epistemological privilege. In other words, oppressed people are able to see differential outcomes that privileged people cannot and do not see. I think the things that men don’t see are truly remarkable.

There are more aspects of privilege that we often do not see. When you look at the work done, one of the things that women are invisibly charged with, is to do both the emotional work for men and to do the socially educate, guide and steer them. This is role related and is a universal tax placed upon women in relation to men. In a very real way, this often continues in feminism because of what feminism is. IF feminism is grounded in the material experiences of women – men have nothing to add, but still require educating, the traditional role. Feminisms rather mandates that men educate themselves and on of the primary roles for men in feminism is to educate other men. Feminism is a movement for women to obtain full access to socio-political rewards of society, and the only way we will ever do this will be to radically change society. It will be ours to unravel society down to the fundamental oppression which is gender. When we are finished a side product will be that men are liberated too. It must be remembered that the liberation of men is a side product of feminist pursuits. Feminism is not for the liberation of all people, but it will liberate all people because it is ours to eliminate the fundamental oppression. There is sort of a quandry or koan in all of this. As soon feminism is made about the liberation of all people, it becomes – NOT Feminism and cannot and will not accomplish it’s goals.

I am not an overall Daly fan because of her essentialism, but she has taught us many wonderful things. Men in feminist spaces generally divert the space. IF men say patriarchy hurts men too (PHMT), the proper feminist response is, “We’re really sorry. Go out there and change it.” What we don’t do is to enable patriarchy by making the traditional response, “Oh you poor baby.” You always have to look whether men are in feminism because the want to benefit women or themselves. Within feminism, we shouldn’t be hearing much from men. They should be out holding anti-rape seminars, repairing domestic violence clinics and working on their own issues, instead of making their issues – ours, yet another function of privilege.

I think there are other questions that I’ve always had. What happens when push comes to shove? (The only value in feminism for hypothetical is to illustrate). But suppose, suddenly feminist were in the verge of a major victory say of the magnitude of Roe. One has to remember that ROE didn’t cost men anything. What happens when a gain does cost men? Are they going to work against themselves? Did we not receive an answer to this in terms of the ERA? What I am positing is that relying on the support of men.

For all of these reasons, I question men being in feminism in any other capacity than I’ve described.

I have a married feminist friend and over the years, she has trained her husband (let’s not make that transparent) to the point that he is a pleasure to be around. I believe he does understand what feminists need from men and I believe that’s the proper question to ask.

There’s one more really unusual narrative. There was an ostensible man on a major feminist board and then a second, third and fouth. This individual had a masculine user name, but few took him to be male. Further more, the person over time showed clearly that they were woman-centered. I became friends with him. And we really, really curious at where this person was centered. “There is at least one good man”, I decided. But then other things began to really puzzle me. After really watching this person and how they approached the world and solved problems, I thought, “this person is not epistemologically male” and I watched other board members be absolutely astounded that this was a man even with the very male username. This person went through a period of avoiding me for months. When we did interact on MSN, there was ‘hint dropping and flight’. Finally it was shared, this person was changing class and would no longer be in class man but class woman. In a way, that was really disappointing. I have yet to find my one good man…….
 
 
 
fishyfem on February 16th, 2006 02:22 pm (UTC)
You bring up valid points...
Yet I think because women have been marginalized, we will stay marginalized as long as feminism remains just a womens' movement. And not only because we are women, but because we are half of society, and clearly, not even a substantial portion of that half is ready or willing to participate at this time.

Men often don't won't to be associated with feminism. Even women don't want to be, because we lose crediblity when we become women-identified, and proclaim that we want to be "just as good as" men.

I am interested in issues of race/ethnicity although I am Caucasian. I believe it is because I honestly care about those whom have suffered because of my, and my ancestors, greed. I certainly cannot speak FOR ethnic minorities, but I do care, and would like to learn more about the ways they have suffered because of what my own people have done to them. At the same time, I feel intimitaded; I do not want to turn Black Liberation into a White America issue.

I actually have more to say about men in feminism, but it is heading in a slightly different direction, so I will e-mail it to the list.

Take care.
radfeministaradfeminista on February 16th, 2006 07:08 pm (UTC)
illllllp [sic]
And you had many interesting things to say, too!

Yet I think because women have been marginalized, we will stay marginalized as long as feminism remains just a womens' movement.

I inhaled a little bit as I read "just". I'll understand you to mean restricted to, or primarily concerned with women.

When I think of it, it feels as if we are headed in a familiar direction and a direction where age is often a divider. In terms of what you are proposing, how do you distinguish between Femninism and humanism?

"And not only because we are women, but because we are half of society, and clearly, not even a substantial portion of that half is ready or willing to participate at this time."

In the future, womyn will be assured that I am crazy because I'll be wanting to explore a new area in feminism, a new piece of the pie which is Temporality and women will probably be asking from here to doom's day
what the heck is she talking about? Laurel, at your age that's a perfectly appropriate question. At my age we've had the chance to live through several realities and sadly enough, you don't have experiental acess to those realities. I'm talking about the second wave before you were born. A major inflection point in World History, I'm sure was the election of Reagan in 1980. After he was elected we lost the ERA and then Geraldine Feraro was torn apart by the press. Rush Limbaugh was busy CREATING or fanning the backlash. Belittling "femiNazis" was televised nightly sport against Johnny Carson at night.

How do I find words which transcend the generation to reach you. This is indeed part of the enigma of temporality.

An awful lot of things are happening at once (Temporality). I've mentioned that I'm an abuse survivor. I'm getting to know men. They are nicer than I expected but still men. There's not a lot of emotional exchange and when you get right into it they are still men. My favorites are the ones who show softness and vulenerability. But what I wanted to convey was that when feminism began other than baby/bridal showers, Brownie Meetings, bridge clubs THERE WAS NO PLACE we could call our own. For a contemporary lesbian this in increasing true. Because of the Queer movement there has been a constant attack on women's spaces. FishyFem, I don't participate in spaces where there are men. I will never be comfortable in such mixed spaces, partially because I don't receive a lot of pleasure interacting with them.

Secondly, to be honest, I think radical feminists, being woman centered have a healthy myoptic focus on women.... on women..... on women ( I can't say that to much)

Men often don't won't to be associated with feminism. Even women don't want to be, because we lose crediblity when we become women-identified, and proclaim that we want to be "just as good as" men.

I've never used men as a standard for anything. This is good and in a way, why we began RFV is to address some of these issues.

Who do we lose credibility with? Can you see that loss of status of of being a women-identified as a SYMPTOM of male dominance rather than a reason to let men in?


I am interested in issues of race/ethnicity although I am Caucasian. I believe it is because I honestly care about those whom have suffered because of my, and my ancestors, greed. I certainly cannot speak FOR ethnic minorities, but I do care, and would like to learn more about the ways they have suffered because of what my own people have done to them.

I'm with you here.

At the same time, I feel intimitaded; I do not want to turn Black Liberation into a White America issue.

And here I don't understand exactly what you are conveying....
fishyfem on February 16th, 2006 10:51 pm (UTC)
Re: illllllp [sic]
Hi Renee,

Your question is valid re: the distinction between feminism and humanism. Men in feminism would be working towards goals for *women*, respect for women, and humanity for women, rather than liberation for themselves.

I have read about the '80s--which is clearly not the same as living through them. I know about spaces--some in rather recent times--that have been removed from us. Not every space would be available for men to intrude upon. That is not what I'm saying, not at all.

I, too feel much, MUCH more comfortable in women-only spaces--but it is men who need to change to make me more comfortable. And sometimes I will still want to be in women-only spaces. Carrying the burden of patriarchy's sting doesn't go away easily.

Who do we lose credibility with? Can you see that loss of status of of being a women-identified as a SYMPTOM of male dominance rather than a reason to let men in?

Yes, that is indeed an excellent point. I will remind myself of that in the future, thanks!

I was planning to do a separate post on this, but as we are on the topic of the second wave: would you be interested in starting a post regarding what you would like the younger generation to know? Or just describing your experience of the second wave? I actually never quite caught onto what you were saying about the metaphorical bookshelf so if you want to go over that again that'd be great!

radfeministaradfeminista on February 17th, 2006 02:28 am (UTC)
This is Sooooooo Critical
Radfeminista: "Who do we lose credibility with? Can you see that loss of status of of being a women-identified as a SYMPTOM of male dominance rather than a reason to let men in?

Fishyfem: Yes, that is indeed an excellent point. I will remind myself of that in the future, thanks!

It is so important that anytime that we see that we can't accomplish something as women that - that informs about the SHAPE of oppression rather that gives us a reason to define Radical Feminism. That is SUCH and important distinction.

For example, Radical Feminism is by definition NON-VIOLENT. If violence against patriarchy appears to be a solution - that's NOT an invitation to redfine Radical Feminism, that's merely information about patriarchy itself. It's our job to have x-ray vision to recognize what our experience is telling us while staying grounded in Radical Feminist pracice.